MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

October 24, 2020

Mayville State’s agribusiness program will launch with the spring semester

Last week was a great week at Mayville State University! Not only was it homecoming week, but we also made major progress in establishing our new agribusiness program. Dr. Tony Brannon, dean, and Dr. Brian Parr, assistant dean, with the Hutson School of Agriculture at Murray State University in Murray, Ky. spent Monday and Tuesday with us. The two are serving as consultants to help the Mayville State Division of Business establish an agribusiness program at Mayville State.

Tony Brannon.jpgAs I spent most of my career prior to coming to Mayville State at Murray State University, I am quite familiar with the Hutson School of Agriculture and its outstanding reputation. Dr. Brannon and Dr. Parr are highly respected for the work they do and we are extremely fortunate to have them advising us in this new agribusiness venture for Mayville State.

With Mayville State’s agribusiness program coordinator Ted Stoa serving as host, Dr. Brannon and Dr. Parr were able to visit local sugar beet operations. The tour group went to a field where beets were being lifted and harvested. In addition, they visited the beet piling station at Nielsville, Minnesota. Eric Ptacek, chief agronomist for the Crookston region of American Crystal Sugar, served as tour guide providing a wealth of information about sugar processing.

Brian Parr.jpgDuring their two-day stay, the consultants were able to garner and share a good deal of information in meetings held with program faculty. The consultants gave advice and asked many questions. While the agribusiness is housed in the Division of Business under the leadership of Rhonda Nelson, division chair, the consultants encouraged the formation of internal and external teams. To provide a diverse experience for students, science and geography faculty will team up with business faculty to offer courses that will be relevant and meaningful to the degree candidates.

Dr. Brannon and Dr. Parr, former high school ag program teachers and Future Farmers of America advisors, strongly encouraged the establishment of an agribusiness club at Mayville State. During a student roundtable discussion, that is exactly what happened. The group named Jack Gerber as president and John Tweed as vice president. Brody Rocholl will serve as secretary.

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, we were honored to host a luncheon for farmers and representatives of the agribusiness world. There we discussed opportunities with Mayville State’s new degree program. Dr. Brannon and Dr. Parr led the discussion and luncheon guests provided extremely valuable feedback. Discussion verified there is interest and value in an agribusiness program at Mayville State.

In addition to several area farmers, those in attendance included a trader, insurance agents, an ag-related business owner, lenders, a farm seed representative, a representative of the North Dakota Trade Office, May-Port CG’s ag teacher, and others. We are blessed to be surrounded by people who are supportive and generous with their time and expertise.

The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education approved our request to offer the agribusiness program last spring. Mayville State’s B.S. in agribusiness program will provide coursework, career field experience, and a degree to prepare students for careers in agriculture and business-related fields. All members of today’s agribusiness industry, including farmers and ranchers, need to know more than how to provide for the world’s food supply from the land. The B.S. in agribusiness will provide students with an enhanced skill set and expand their knowledge, allowing them to excel in all aspects of business related to farming, ranching, producing, and marketing of agricultural commodities. Students will be prepared to work in sales, cooperatives, banking, finance, and other agribusiness fields. Courses leading to the degree will be available on campus and at a distance for students who wish to continue their education from home.

While the agribusiness program officially launches in the spring semester of 2021, we already have a number of students who are studying on campus and are ready to head down the agribusiness track as soon as the courses are available. I am delighted that offering a program such as the agribusiness program at Mayville State is giving us an opportunity to keep several local young people in the area and studying with us, rather than heading off to other states and institutions to pursue their educational goals.

Those interested in the agribusiness program at Mayville State should contact Ted Stoa at 701-788-4791 or

Photo Captions

Top: Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture at Murray State University in Murray, Ky., is serving as a consultant as the new agribusiness program at Mayville State University is developed.

Bottom: Dr. Brian Parr, assistant dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture is also serving as a consultant in the development of Mayville State's agribusiness program. Dr. Parr and Dr. Brannon led the discussion when a group of area farmers and ag-related professionals met at Mayville State on Oct. 13.